Gov. Martin O’Malley has appointed first-term Del. Stephen Hershey to fill the seat vacated by Sen. E.J. Pipkin in District 36 – breaking a tie among the GOP central committees of Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. They were split between Hershey and his colleague in the House of Delegates, Del. Mike Smigiel. O’Malley said his decision was based on recognition of broader support for Hershey in District 36. He also said the choice should not have been his to make.
Del. Steve Hershey has lobbied county commissioners in Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, and Cecil for letters of support to the governor in his bid to fill the seat vacated by Sen. E.J. Pipkin in District 36. But he has done so using his official legislative letterhead — prohibited under ethics rules established by the legislature.
In 2010, 46,000 people in four counties on the upper Eastern Shore participated in electing the state senator for District 36, and less than half of them were registered Republicans. Yet 29,000 of these voters chose to reelect Republican Sen. E.J.Pipkin, who resigned Aug. 12. By Sept. 10, 32 people or less, all of them members of the Republican Central committees from the four counties, will get to choose his successor.
Del. Mike Smigiel said he has put his name in for the nomination to replace Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who will resign effective August 12. Republican Central Committees from the four Upper Shore Counties will submit a name or names to the governor. Pipkin announced Monday he would resign to earn a master’s degree in sports management at Southern Methodist University in Texas.
State officials are working to make sure people being released from prison will sign up for benefits during the 2014 Medicaid expansion.
When the enrollment date for individual health plans rolls around in October, former inmates will also be eligible for health plans offered in state health care exchanges, another part of the “Obamacare” Affordable Care Act implementation. But health advocates say that at best it’s more likely they’ll be signing up for Medicaid, because of their low incomes.
An attempt to delay implementation of stormwater clean-up fees that will cost Maryland property owners millions come July failed in the legislature’s final day. The delay died after it was attached to a bill exempting nonprofits and government agencies from the fees called “the rain tax” by critics.
Just 25 days after it was introduced, the Maryland Senate enacted the first gas tax hike in 21 years, sending the governor a 10 to 12 cent per gallon increase by 2015. The bill calls for the tax to go even higher — it will rise automatically in future years.
A bill continuing Maryland’s practice of granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants received preliminary approval from state senators Friday, paving the way for a final vote on the legislation.
This Senate legislation was sponsored by Sen. Victor Ramirez, a longtime advocate for Maryland’s immigrant community who is once again facing resistance for his pro-immigrant policies from Republicans who argue that illegal immigrants should not receive the benefits of citizenship.
A bill to raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $10 an hour died in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. It was defeated in an 8-3 vote with several senators explaining that they opposed the legislation in spite of their sympathy for low-wage workers because the timing was not right for a wage increase.